Aberdeen FC Women manager Emma Hunter reckons the fighting spirit on display against Partick Thistle will serve the Reds well as they look to seal the SWPL 2 title against Dundee United on Sunday.
The Dons were forced to play just over half the match against the Jags with 10 players after captain Kelly Forrest was controversially sent off.
But two second-half strikes from Bayley Hutchison and a robust defensive display demonstrated why the Reds have been the best side in the division throughout the campaign.
Hunter says that, while the absence of Forrest will no doubt impact the team, more of that same fortitude will be required against United at the Regional Performance Centre in Dundee (2.45pm).
She said: “What the Partick game showed was who we are as a team. We’re so close, we battle away and we never take anything for granted at all.
“It was huge. It’s probably the most influential one since our amalgamation with Aberdeen Football Club because it was when things were going against us.
“If we’d gone into facing Dundee United with back-to-back defeats it could’ve been a whole different situation so (beating Partick) was really important.
“It also allows us to relax a little bit as we know we’ve a couple of games left but it’s a must-win for United, so it’s taken a bit of pressure off of us for the match.”
‘Time to get job done’
Sealing promotion to SWPL 1 brings with it the chance to mix it among the Scottish elite such as Glasgow City, Celtic and Rangers.
That is a challenge Hunter and her players would no doubt relish – but the Reds boss insists they can’t afford to take their eye off the ball with promotion and the title still to be secured.
She added: “We’re the type of team who just wants to get things done, that’s the most important part. We don’t want to talk too much about it.
“Dundee United are a quality side and I’ve a load of respect for (manager) Gavin Beith as a coach and a person.
“They’ll come out fighting and I think it’ll be a good game of football as well.”
‘More of same from Bayley’
A key part of Sunday’s gameplan will surely be Hutchison, whose presence up front allowed the Dons to implement their counter-attack so effectively against Partick.
Hutchison was on the scoresheet the last time Aberdeen faced United – a 4-3 opening-day victory in which the Reds were never ahead until Eva Thomson’s 95th-minute winner.
“Bayley can give us lots of different things,” said Hunter.
“What I like about having her as a striker is that we can get in behind teams with her but, when teams set up quite deep, she can hold the ball and bring others into the game as well.
“We’ve also got Eva Thomson high up in the scoring list and Francesca Ogilvie’s up there as well so it’s not all on Bayley to score the goals, that’s something we want to do as a team.
“But she needed that bit of confidence as she had a run of a couple of games where things weren’t quite coming off for her so the Partick game will give her a load of confidence.”
Squad news and fixture list
The Dons are once again part of the last game of the matchday. A win for Aberdeen combined with a Hamilton triumph at Boroughmuir Thistle and Partick Thistle failing to beat Queen’s Park would confirm Accies’ promotion as well.
Forrest will miss Sunday’s match due to suspension following her straight red against Partick while Hunter revealed Bailey Collins will be assessed after being on the receiving end of a bad tackle against the Jags.
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“Bailey took a bad knock towards the end of the Partick game,” said Hunter.
“There’s a bit of swelling around her ankle and knee so we will assess that (on Saturday) but apart from that we’re all fit. We’ll have a really strong squad.”
Fixtures: Boroughmuir Thistle v Hamilton Accies (2pm), Partick Thistle v Queen’s Park (2pm), Stirling University v Glasgow Women (2pm), Kilmarnock v St Johnstone (2.30pm), Dundee United v Aberdeen (2.45pm).